Derby defeat underlines the challenge this Christmas
The Tyne-Tees derby produced another bitterly disappointing result. I didn’t think there was an awful lot between the sides and if some decisions had gone our way the result could have been different.
A push on Emanuel Pogatetz should have seen United’s first goal disallowed and Steven Taylor’s blatant handball then prevented a Boro equaliser. That’s how things seem to go when you are struggling, and make no mistake Middlesbrough are really struggling at the moment.
So where do we go from here? The first thing the club needs is unity, from the fans, players and management alike. A section of Boro fans seem to be growing increasingly hostile to Gordon Strachan’s appointment and I am getting tired of hearing people say, “we were only one point of the top when he took over”.
Of course this alarming slide down the table was the last thing anyone wanted and we are taking the pain right now but it is my belief that this is a necessary step backwards that will eventually lead to major strides forward.
Sometimes the medicine tastes nasty; the word is that Strachan has implemented a harsh new regime of discipline on and off the field and some of our pampered millionaire players don’t like it. I hope Gordon is able to ship out some of these under achievers in January and introduce some much needed steel and fire power to his team.
We have missed bite and aggression in our team for a long time, Southgate put the emphasis on youth and pace, the result was a spineless team who were unable to fight for survival. I for one am glad to, at last, have a strong leader at the helm and, despite the short-term dip, am happy to be patient and give him time to implement his strategy of total regime change.
Judging by Steve Gibson’s weekend interview, it seems there will be money to spend during the transfer window. It will certainly be good news to have a more permanent squad of players, all these loan signings bring an air of transience that cannot be good for team spirit. Let’s hope Gordon is able to use his powers of persuasion to bring some of his type of players to the club, despite our disappointing form.
One glaring problem is goalkeeper Brad Jones, his confidence is shot and he needs to be taken out of the firing line immediately. Whether this means investing money in a new goalkeeper or just bringing Danny Coyne back into the team is a decision the manager needs to make. One thing is certain though, the current situation is untenable: Jones was all over the place at St James park.
This transfer window could also see Adam Johnson move on to pastures new, the word is that Sunderland have a £5million bid on the table. His creativity was very much missed on Sunday and I certainly hope he stays for the remainder of the season. Whatever the outcome It will be a welcome relief to see the end of all the speculation.
While Middlesbrough’s winter of discontent continues I would urge Boro fans to stick together through these tough times. We need to forget the past and start to live in the present. The days of big-money signings are gone forever. The days of european football are gone.
The days of mismanagement and self-inflicted destruction under Gareth Southgate are gone. Middlesbrough Football Club are now living with a realistic budget for a club of our size. We now have a manager who has a proven track record of delivering in these circumstances.
It’s time the spoiled fans of the Riverside generation wake up and realise what it is to support this club. Boro fans need take stock, look at the bigger picture and have faith in Gordon Strachan’s plan for the future.